Access key links:

This site uses cookies to help make it more useful and reliable. Our cookies page explains what they are, which ones they use, and how you can manage and remove them.

Sub menu

Praxis: Encouraging small firms to invest in training: learning from overseas


Praxis 5More adults engage in learning at work than anywhere else, and given that businesses with fewer than 25 workers account for over 90% of all employers in the UK, both the quantity and quality of the training available is of critical importance.

Praxis: Encouraging small firms to invest in training: learning from overseas (PDF, 160 Kb) 
Published June 2010

More adults engage in learning at work than anywhere else, and given that businesses with fewer than 25 workers account for over 90% of all employers in the UK, both the quantity and quality of the training available is of critical importance.

In this edition of Praxis, Ian Stone identifies and explores the main barriers to training experienced by small firms and, drawing on the experiences of international competitors and comparator nations, considers possible policy responses and interventions.

Professor Stone’s work raises some important questions for UK skills policy in relation to smaller firms. He questions whether the UK’s ‘voluntarist’ tradition mean that policy levers successfully implemented elsewhere would have less impact in the UK. He also challenges the framing of the ‘problem’ of training in small firms as simply an issue of overcoming supply-related barriers. Instead he explores whether policy can be used to raise demand for skills formation, by linking it to increased ambition for high value products or services.

These questions must of course be answered with consideration of the political and economic context in which future policy will be developed. The reality of long term fiscal constraints will impact on the type and reach of policy interventions available to support smaller firms. However, given the important role of skills in building stronger, more competitive businesses, the challenges raised by this paper are of critical importance in ensuring that small firms can maximise the opportunities created by economic recovery.

Further insight on this important policy area is provided in our recent Briefing Paper by Professor Paul Edwards ‘Skills and the Small Firm: A Research and Policy Briefing’. Professor Edward’s work challenges the assumption that training in small firms is necessarily problematic and introduces a more nuanced approach to this debate, highlighting the complex differences between small firms, including their approach to training. This paper provides valuable insight into the context in which policy aimed at increasing training in small firms must be located.

  • Print this page